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Migraine Trigger Overload

Last updated: August 2022

I love having a routine so much because a slight deviation can wreak havoc on my migraine health. I received a text from my little cousin, whom I basically raised, when I was getting ready for bed. She told me she was at urgent care, and they were transporting her to the hospital. The little one wanted me to be there because they would have to do a procedure on her throat.

My mom mode kicked in, and I quickly packed some overnight items for the both of us. She needed the regular pajama pants, hairbrush, make-up wipes, etc. I tossed in an easy outfit for the next day. But then I had to slow down and make sure I included all my medications. If we were to stay the night, I needed my bedtime medications, but I also needed to have my "as needed" medications. I already knew I was walking into a migraine trigger overload.

Migraine triggers are very personal to everyone. Something may be a migraine trigger for me, but not for you.

Staying up late

The first trigger I walked into was getting out of my routine. A change in my sleep schedule can cause a migraine. Since it was already my bedtime, I knew that I would not be getting sleep anytime soon.


Personally, being under a lot of stress is my original migraine trigger. When I lived with episodic migraines, my trigger was high-stress levels. Unfortunately, going to the emergency room to meet my cousin and being unsure what was happening to her caused me some stress.

The abscesses in her throat made her unable to speak, which meant I was only getting pieces of information. While she ended up just needing an outpatient procedure done, I was told she would need surgery.

Flashing lights

It was very late at night when we finished getting her treated at the hospital. It meant the night was dark, and all the lights made driving hard. The lights from various buildings, stop lights, construction crews, and police cars did a number on my head. I have read before that the contrast between the dark and lights activates the neurological pathways that cause photophobia.

Stress let-down

Another migraine trigger occurs when the high level of stress is resolved. It is sometimes called a let-down migraine. I did not even make it back home before I had a full-fledged migraine.

Evil combination

The combination of experiencing all of these triggers within a few hours caused a severe migraine. When I made it home, I sat in my car for a few minutes. I had to gather my strength to carry the overnight bag I had packed hours earlier back into the house. I used my migraine abortives and crawled into my bed. Unfortunately, it was bad enough that I still woke up with a migraine and had to repeat the treatment.

This experience reminded me that I should have taken an abortive when I knew I needed to go to the hospital for my little cousin. It would have helped prevent the migraine from turning into a 24-hour-long event.

Have your migraine triggers ever teamed up against you?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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